I received an email and comment lately asking if I could outline exactly how I meal plan for my family and so here we are. I don’t know how to explain this easily in written form so I hope it’s easy to understand!
I can’t stress the importance of meal planning enough. Yes, it can be time-consuming but once you get used to doing it, it becomes second nature. Like anything, practice helps.
My specific meal planning involves a lot of list making, and remaking. To start I make a quick list with the days of the week and a quick note of anything of significance going on sort of like this:
W: hubby soccer 9pm- light dinner
F: eat out date- No cooking!
S: 4pm church- slow cooker meal.
This helps me visualize my week and what sort of meals I will be looking to plan. I used to just write all over a calendar but I like having a little list/note on my actual grocery list to remind me why I’m buying certain things (like why I’m doubling a recipe because we’re having friends over when normally I don’t buy so much).
Once the week is planned out in my head I look to see what we have already. To start, I have a quick look to see what’s in the house already and see if there is anything I can plan around before going any further. For example, right now I have a bunch of crushed tomatoes and kidney beans in the pantry, I also have some cut up peppers in the freezer so I will add lean ground beef to my list of ”needs” to make chili for the week. One meal (and lunch leftovers) planned already!
After see what I have in the house already, I head to the flyers to see what is on sale and head to my personal recipe book. This is something I keep updated of meals we like so I have a go-to when we’re thinking ”what do we want to eat this week?”. The book itself is a simple three ring binder of sorts that I keep everything in and organized. Sometimes it’s a simple recipe like ”Grilled cheese sandwich with fixings (avocado, bacon and tomato)”. Not that I need directions to make something like this but it acts more of a reminder when making my shopping lists up.
After I check the flyers I fill in my daily list and now it will look more like this, noting only what I don’t already have:
M: Rotisserie chicken from Costco (make side of steamed broccoli and mashed potatoes)
Need: Chicken bought monday at Costco
T: Club sandwiches w/ home fries (using leftover rotisserie chicken)
Need: bacon, lettuce
W: hubby soccer 9pm: Spaghetti w/ dinner rolls
Need: Pasta sauce, rolls
R: Breakfast supper (bacon, homemade homefries, fruit salad, toast)
Need: Bacon, fruit for salad (already have apples and oranges)
F: eat out date- No cooking!
S: 4pm church- slow cooker meal- Chili (double recipe and freeze leftovers in serving size for lunch)
Need: 2lbs lean ground beef
Su: Sweet and sour meatballs and rice
Need: 2lbs ln ground beef, can of pineapple chunks
Things to note:
- In this example, lean ground beef was on sale so I opted to have a few meals around that.
- I try to plan meals that make a lot, and could eat for leftovers, early in the week. Having meatballs on Sunday means we’d have an easy lunch option for both Monday and Tuesday if we wanted.
- I don’t plan something like a roast unless it’s on sale.
- Breakfasts supper is one of our favorite go-to’s when all else fails.
- Potatoes are super easy to make a million different ways so we eat them often (mashed, boil with butter/salt/pepper, home fries, french fries, stews&casserole base ). I bought a 15lb bag of potatoes for $2.00 so I plan on eating them!
- Don’t forget about frozen fruit and veggies!
- I only like to do one week at a time so I can capitalize on the best sales but nothing is stopping you from doing more.
- Doing a ”big cook” can be hugely convenient and save a lot of time (especially on maternity leave!).
That’s the quick and dirty way I meal plan. My lists are atrocious with chicken scratch all over them but they keep me sane, I couldn’t imagine grocery shopping without them!
How do you plan your meals? Any tips to add?